The Latin Pope Receives the Prime Minister of Ukraine
Rome meets Babylon
March 28, 2021 - Audio, 16.48 MIN
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Bible students were interested to see that just this last week the Pope received the Prime Minister of the Ukraine. This is of real interest to us because it's another example of the western Catholic Church meeting with a leader from eastern Europe. As Christadelphians, we expect to see some form of unification of east and west at the time of the end. In fact this last month has been particularly interesting when we reflect on the activities of the papacy. At the beginning of the month, the Pope visited Iraq. This was of significance as it was the first visit the Pope has made to a foreign country, following over a year of lockdown. Headlines such as “Rome meets Babylon” were shown across the world.
We ask ourselves what the significance of Iraq Is in the Bible and why would anyone be bothered about the Pope going to this place?The word ‘before’ may suggest to us that he was respected by the LORD as a mighty hunter. How wrong that would be. Nimrod was a mighty hunter against God. He was a man who stood for everything that the God of the Bible detests and wants those who love him to leave behind. The Genesis record tell us:
Iraq is a very ancient nation in which some exceptionally important and ancient civilizations began. None more so than places shown on the map such as Nineveh, Ur and Babylon. All of these places are highly significant from a Biblical point of view.
Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire and the place which Jonah the prophet wanted to avoid going to. Ur, was the home of the patriarch Abraham. The Pope visited both of these places in his trip to Iraq. It is Babylon though in Iraq that perhaps has the greatest symbolic significance. The origins of the kingdom of Babylon and all that is comes to stand for are essential understanding for any Bible student. Babylon we are shown in the Genesis record was founded by a man named Nimrod. In Genesis 10 we read that “Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the LORD.”
“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before [against] the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh” (Genesis 10:8-11)
This man was a hunter of people who wanted to be faithful to Yahweh, the God of the Bible. We see in his actions a blueprint for the actions shown by the Roman Catholic church in the middle ages. During the time of ‘The Inquisition’ they literally hunted all those who did not accept their beliefs.
This man Nimrod, the record makes clear, went on to build many ancient civilizations, including Babylon. The Genesis record goes on in chapter 11 to recount the story of the Tower of Babel. (Babel is exactly the same word in the original as Babylon – this is the tower of Babylon.)
The Bible tells us that the builders wanted to make a name for themselves and so decided to “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven”. Nimrod and those who followed him developed a mindset, a culture and a religion set against the God of heaven. The religious systems that came out of Babylon were of particular note:
“The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshiped a goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms. Following the death of Nimrod, Semiratis had a son whom she named Tammuz. She claimed that her son was the resurrected Nimrod, or rather, the sun god Baal. She further claimed that her son was conceived supernaturally and was the Saviour promised in Genesis 3:15. In the religion that developed, not only was the child worshiped but the mother as well.” (one16ministries.com)
We also understand that:
“According to ancient Egyptian and Babylonian traditions, his mother was Semiramis; sometimes Semiramis is referred to as the mother of Nimrod, and sometimes as his wife, leading to the belief that Nimrod married his mother. Even though Semiramis claimed to be a virgin she had another son, named Tammuz, who she said was the reincarnation of Nimrod. She became known as the “Virgin Mother”, “Holy Mother” and the “Queen of Heaven” and was symbolized by the Moon. So began the worship of Semiramis and the child-god, and the whole paraphernalia of the Babylonian religious system.” (doctorwoodhead.com)
It is abundantly clear that these aspects are perfectly reflected in the system of Rome. The teaching of the Roman Catholic church has evolved from this ancient religious system. John Cassian, writing in the 4th century makes clear what the Roman Catholic position is: “Now, you heretic, you say (whoever you are who deny that God was born of the Virgin), that Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, cannot be called the Mother of God, but the Mother only of Christ and not of God—for no one, you say, gives birth to one older than herself. And concerning this utterly stupid argument . . . let us prove by divine testimonies both that Christ is God and that Mary is the Mother of God” (On the Incarnation of Christ Against Nestorius 2:2 [A.D. 429]).
Little wonder, true Bible students are so fascinated by the visit of the pope to this place. It is the place in which we see the beginnings of a system of worship that has become the very bedrock on which the Roman Catholic church has based her doctrines.
In addition, the paradox of the pope visiting this place, of all places, is that true Christians are exhorted through the Bible to have nothing to do with this place and all that it stands for! In Genesis 12, Abram (later to become Abraham), is commanded by God to leave this place:
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:” (Genesis 12:1)
Two thousand years or so later, when the writer to the Hebrews was inspired by God to write to the natural descendants of Abraham, he writes:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10)
The Bible commends Abraham and holds him up as an example of faith because he got out of the very place that the Pope went to visit! He got out of there and went in faith looking for a city with true foundations.
Babylon however went on to become the foundations of Rome. This isn’t speculation based on a few similarities in religious identify. Rather, it was predicted in the Bible and has become a fact. To see this we need to look at the prophet Daniel.
In Daniel chapter 2, we read of a dream given to the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar of an image of a man made up of different metals. The king is troubled by his dream and no one in Babylon – the centre of wordly wisdom at this time – is able to tell him what he dreamt or what it means. Save one, Daniel. Daniel is given both the dream and the interpretation by God:
“Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.” (Daniel 2:31-34)
Daniel then goes onto explain what the image represents and means:
“Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron:” (Daniel 2:38-40)
Nebuchadnezzar had been given the most extraordinary dream showing the rise and fall of successive empires across the middle east, from the Babylonians, to the Medes and Persian, to the Greeks and the Romans. It is so important for Bible students to understand this, as only then can they truly appreciate that Rome and all of its trappings and ideologies came out of the thinking of Babylon. “Thou are this head of gold”!
The Catholic church came out of Rome. It is the Roman Catholic church. It’s of no surprise that so much of the religion of ancient Babylon is reflected in the religion of Rome.
We note that as there are two arms to the image – representing the Medes and the Persians, so there are two legs. The legs show us the iron of Rome. Remarkably the image is such an accurate representation of the history of each empire because during the 300s Rome split into two. The eastern and western empires.
Later there was another major split in the history of Rome, as not only did she politically split in two, but religiously also. It became known as the Great Schism. In 1064 the the religious systems of Rome split into east and west. The western empire was ruled from Rome and affiliated to the Pope and the church of Rome, but the eastern empire became the Eastern Orthodox church.
Perhaps we ask the question why does this matter, a millennium later! To find the answer we need to return to Daniel’s prophecy and the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had.
The Roman empire of course didn’t last forever. The western leg as a political empire collapsed in the year 476AD due to the Barbarians. The eastern leg lasted a lot longer but collapsed to the Ottoman Turks in the year 1453. The Holy Roman empire formed in central Europe collapsed at the time of the French Revolution, in the early 1800s.
The feet and toes of the image reflect this. They were partly iron and partly clay. The iron of Rome lived on without having the power it once did as an empire. Yet, the events of the French Revolution changed the countries of Europe to become democracies ruled by ordinary men and women – the clay. Even today we see the uncomfortable conflict between the iron and the clay. The headline opposite from the indianexpress.com, November 2nd 2020, highlights this to us. The iron and the clay can’t mix!
We live in these days. We live at the point in history that is right at the end of the toes of that image!
The dream went on to explain what would happen at the time of the end to these kingdoms:
“And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:42-44)
The schism of 1054.
We note something else also about the falling of this great image, shown in verse 34: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.” That is, the image when destroyed is on his feet.
This means that at the time when the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands (the Lord Jesus Christ) is sent to smash the image to pieces, the image is standing up!
That is why as Bible students we are so fascinated by visits such as the one made by the Ukrainian prime minister this week to Rome. For the image to stand up, the eastern and western legs must communicate and become a joint force.
The signs of the times make clear, that the time will soon be upon us when the stone cut out of the mountain without hands will be sent back to earth to destroy that image and all of the thinking of Babylon. What should we do then today?
The call of the gospel to the faithful through the ages is to leave that system of worship. In Revelation 18 we read of that call – “Come out of her [Babylon], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:4-5)
The irony in all of this is that this month the Pope chose to return to this place! No wonder the headline writers told us “Rome meets Babylon”! A few perhaps understood the significance of this visit. The Pope took great delight in returning to the ancestral home of Abraham. For true Bible believers we need to get out of everything that is caught up with thinking of Babylon, seen in the religion of Rome. As Nimrod’s tower of Babel reached to heaven, so have her sins.
As Christadelphians we implore you to act today, before the stone returns to smite the image. Leave behind the systems of Babylon and Rome, and read your Bible.
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